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I would like to give credit where credit is due. Videos are from YouTube and other sources such as NicoNico while Oricon rankings and other information are translated from the Japanese Wikipedia unless noted.

Saturday, January 13, 2018

Haruo Oka -- Tokyo no Hanauri Musume(東京の花売娘)


Regular broadcasting returned to TV Japan somewhat over this past week after all of the New Year's hijinks. This meant that Tuesday night had the kayo show come back but it wasn't NHK's "Uta Kon"(うたコン). Instead it was another edition of kayo legend Hiroshi Itsuki's(五木ひろし)"Itsuki-sensei o Utau! SHOW Gakko"(五木先生の 歌う!SHOW学校), the program featuring a mix of tarento and enka singers in an old-fashioned elementary school setting with Itsuki as the amiable teacher. There was the usual humour and performances of the oldies, and there was one segment paying tribute to the late singer Haruo Oka(岡晴夫)who had his heyday in the 1940s and perhaps 1950s.


The most famous song by Oka in my estimation was his 1948 "Akogare no Hawaii Koro"(憧れのハワイ航路)and from hearing some of his other songs in the tribute on Itsuki's show, I had the impression that Oka was a crooner doing some very upbeat melodies during a time when Japan realized that it had to start all over again.

One song from the tribute was "Tokyo no Hanauri Musume" (Flower Girl of Tokyo) which was recorded two years before "Akogare no Hawaii Koro" in 1946. Actually, this particular song was the middle child of five songs in Oka's own "Flower Girl" series starting with "Shanghai no Hanauri Musume"(上海の花売娘...Flower Girl of Shanghai)in 1939. All of the "Flower Girl" songs were composed by Gento Uehara(上原げんと)with the Tokyo version's lyrics provided by Yutaka Kadota(門田ゆたか)under the alias of Shio Sasa(佐々詩生). Not particularly sure how that pseudonym is pronounced since there are a number of readings for the first name so if anyone can correct or confirm my guess at it, please do so.


"Tokyo no Hanauri Musume" is my first exposure to the "Flower Girl" series sung by Oka, and from the versions that I've heard on "SHOW Gakko" and YouTube, it's a hopeful ditty with the titular girl selling her flowers on the street which also seems to have its fair share of flora and by a jazz hall. There's even mention of American soldiers and the feeling is that of a general hustle and bustle in the big city now that the war is over. I even caught a whiff of a slow boogie in the melody as well.


Especially for an old chestnut like this one, covers have been made of "Tokyo no Hanauri Musume". For instance, Kiyoshi Hikawa(氷川きよし)provided his take in his 2004 album "Enka Meikyoku Collection 4"(演歌名曲コレクション4...Enka Standard Collection 4). I don't know what the recorded version sounds like but I do like his slightly jazzier version in the above video.


There is also this nostalgically elegant version by Kaori Mizumori(水森かおり)although I don't know whether she ever did an official recording and when it was released.

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